The pickers out visiting the good
Spots, startled by my dogs, seem clumsy
Or ashamed, as if caught
Relieving themselves,
Bent over, there. They show me buttons,
A whole regalia of mushrooms
Minted by the rain.

Each finding what they need
Cherishes the difficult search. For no reason
Light threads onto a thin, dead branch.

Between dense firs, there’s the tallest dogwood
Too. Her long elastic arm
Has grown thin with reaching for that thread.

Questions and Answers

What poetic techniques did you use in “Finding”?

In the early short version I have tried for direct physical effects with devices, made my wife’s cheek into what technically be described as a metaphor, but for me her cheek is a real a chapel. How to make them feel made of the same shape and substance. For the two things, a common shape helps and finding the common denominator of their substance in the sound: dome/bone… bone/dome. This is a chapel dome made of bone.

This is my opening and techniques: transformation of two substances/things through sound of into one, chapel cheek/ dome bone, where one thing can take on the function of the other. Seamus Heaney does this in “St. Francis and the Birds,” when St. Francis speaks in the square and around him ‘doves throttle up like a flock of words.” “Throttle” is the sound transformer. He’s using his through the verb, I’m trying use mine in the nouns and adjectives, adjectives are always made of the same substance as the noun, in the physical world or words: “dome/d”

Nevertheless, I have to keep this under control because I suffer from ELD: elaborate alliteration disease.

I use a traditional lyric line opener that I break into a perpendicular dramatization of its physical parts on each line. I have broken the lines, also, so that the alliteration doesn’t literally crush itself with its own too-muchness and momentum, becoming a sonic steamroller while rumbling through the “gooseberry seeds”.

There’s staggered rhyme/assonance between the lines (“barings” “…berry” “rosary”) to help draw attention to something else in sound and hold the ear on the echo of the earlier word a moment to pick it up before the lines move on. I also try to get words to do what they are. “Jam’s” does that… it jams the roll-away motion of the previous lines.

(Like football, there are plays and blockers—runs and tackles to first, second and third downs. Then, start all over again. In other words flow, falter and fall in the action of the rhythm.)

I should explain the origin of my ELD and my compound adjectivism. I was smitten by Gerard Manley Hopkins, or let’s say, he obviated something in my own Celtic Viking Anglo-Saxon verse genes with his sprung rhythm and compound adjectives. Not till I read in Hopkins poetry and ideas about technique and form did I really recognize where the impulse came from, where it was all the time in the way we talked in Ireland.

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